Similar to new year’s resolutions, beginning the year with an ideal week can be an energizing, exciting and expectation-filled process. We block time to focus, develop boundaries on work and non-work activities and are excited to implement this new method of managing our time. Then, we hit the third or fourth week of January – or maybe early February – and we find ourselves struggling with maintaining the ideal week. Perhaps we offer one of the time blocks to someone who really needs to meet with us or we keep working beyond our planned work schedule to check a few more items off of the list. Or maybe it snows and you have unexpected family members at home during the workday. Although you may be tempted to give up and throw out the ideal week, please don’t give up yet! Join me this week for three steps to take when you find your ideal week is less than ideal.
Practice self compassion.
Your week did not go as planned and you may be tempted to get frustrated, blame yourself or others and give up. While this may be your first response, you can practice a follow-up response of kindness. Pause, take a break, step away from your desk and consider ways you can show kindness to yourself. You may take a walk, dance, pray, meditate and talk with yourself as you would talk with a good friend or family member. If someone came to you with this same situation, how would you respond? Most of us would show compassion, listen, be supportive and encourage our friend to try again. While it may be difficult at first, the more you can show kindness and compassion to yourself, the easier it will be to try again.
Reflect on what happened.
One of my favorite weekly rituals is reflecting on what worked well and what didn’t work well. When it comes to our ideal week implementation, reflection is an important part of identifying issues and finding solutions to try for future weeks. The concept of an ideal week is that it is “ideal.” Not every week will be able to fulfill our proposed plans. As you reflect, consider what is working well as part of your ideal week that you want to continue doing and what is not working that needs to change. During this reflection time, you may realize that you need additional support (including people!) with implementing your ideal week.
You can start again – each day – or even in the middle of the day! Although you can make plans and have great intentions for your ideal week, when they don’t go as planned you can try again. If you double-booked your focus time for this week, try again next week. If you wanted to be present with your family and you found yourself catching up on email instead, try again tomorrow. As we practice being kind to ourselves and willing to restart, we will be able to move toward more consistently implementing our ideal week.
So what about you? What are you going to try when your ideal week becomes less than ideal?
If you would like additional support in your ideal week and other practices to enhance your rhythm check out my free Escape the Overwhelm checklist.
For additional resources and support in this area, I recommend checking out resources and practices from Kristin Neff as well as one of my favorite Brené Brown books, The Gifts of Imperfection. In our work as coalition leaders, we set the example and the tone for our overall coalition. When we practice self compassion, we give our staff, leaders and others encouragement to also practice self compassion.